- Posted by Alyse Wax
- On October 30, 2015
- 0 Comments
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer, CONtv 101, television
Here at CONtv we know that there are so many areas of fandom and so few hours in the day. In order to help you decide if a specific genre, sub-genre, artist, or hobby is worth the investment of your time, we present CONtv 101. A series of “introductory level courses”, CONtv 101 is NOT your typical “best of” list. The purpose of each course is to provide you with a strong, basic understanding of each topic through a carefully selected syllabus.
Course Description: Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the little show that could. Premiering in 1997 on what was then The WB (now the CW), the notion of turning the campy teen flick of the same name into a TV series was ridiculous, and there wasn’t a good precedent in that arena. Before Buffy, teen comedies like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Clueless were turned into TV series. It didn’t go well. In addition, The WB was a fledgeling network which debuted two years earlier, mostly with ethnic-focused sitcoms. However, Buffy instantly shined with critics and audiences alike. In an interesting spin, the now-defunct UPN entered into a bidding war to steal Buffy from The WB. UPN won and Buffy aired its final two seasons on the smaller network. It was the first time that a TV series changed networks in the middle of a successful original run.
“Surprise” and “Innocence” Episodes 213 & 214
This two-parter is a little ham-fisted, but it sets up some very important story beats. Angel, as we know, is a vampire with a soul: this allows him to be a “good guy” because he is guilt-ridden over the deaths he has caused. This was a gypsy curse that could only be lifted if he experience one moment of true, pure happiness. Which, he apparently does, when he has sex with Buffy for the first time in “Surprise.” He instantly reverts to Angelus, his evil, soulless vampire self, and goes on a rampage for the remainder of the season – which includes the murder of fan-favorite character Jenny Calendar.
“Hush” Episode 410
One of the most masterful hours of terror television ever, it begins normally enough, with our leads suffering minor frustrations because of poor communication. During the night, the voices of everyone in Sunnydale are stolen, leaving the entire town – and more than half the episode – without dialogue. The keepers of the voices are ghoulish monster-men called The Gentlemen who steal voices so that people cannot scream when they remove their hearts.
“The Body” Episode 516
The stunning part of “The Body” is the chilling normalcy that can be just as destructive as the supernatural monsters Sunnydale has to deal with. Buffy comes home to find her mother dead of a brain aneurism. The episode focuses almost entirely on how the Scooby Gang deals with the death, and shows that, despite the death and mayhem that surround them as denizens of the Hellmouth, a normal, average death can be far more devastating.
“Once More, With Feeling” Episode 607
The musical episode of Buffy is an infamous one. It was the first modern scripted television show to do a musical episode, and is considered to have influenced other series, such as Scrubs, Grey’s Anatomy (both of which did one-off musical episodes), and Glee. The episode ran eight minutes longer than the standard hour-long episode, and UPN agreed, on the episode’s premiere showing, to sacrifice precious advertising minutes in order to air the episode uncut. Future airings and syndicated showings have the episode running a normal 42 minutes. An original cast recording of this episode was released.
“Seeing Red” Episode 619
This episode opens with Willow and Tara reconciling after breaking up over Willow’s magic addiction. Throughout the episode, the gang learns that Buffy has been having sex with Spike in secret, something that disgusts Buffy and confuses Spike. He is pretty sure he is in love with her. Buffy is too busy fighting the Trio, three geeks who went to high school with Buffy who are using a mixture of magic and tech to seek vengeance on those who wronged them. Buffy thwarts them, and two of the three are arrested. Later, Buffy is nearly raped by Spike, who is confused by his feelings. He eventually leaves town. As the Scoobies are relaxing at Buffy’s house, the remaining member of the Trio sneaks over and shoots Buffy. She is hit, but not lethally. One of the stray bullets got Tara through the window, and she dies in Willow’s arms. Willow turns hardcore-evil and goes on to be the “big bad” for the rest of the season, eventually skinning alive the guy who killed Tara.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 Comic Book Series
This series of comics, which starts in 2007 (so as not to confuse you with issues written during the run of the show, most of which are non-canonical) was written or co-written by series creator Joss Whedon. They are considered “Season 8” and take place after the television ends. Personally, I am not a fan of season seven of the show, and while I don’t particularly like the direction “Season 8” goes (with thousands of Slayers operating around the world, and the Scooby Gang working out of a castle in Scotland), it works far better in a comic book than it does on screen. Plus, after so many years off the air, it was nice to have Whedon’s voice behind Buffy, Xander, and Willow again.